Vive Le Canada

Date: Monday, March 26 2007

This article appears in the December 14, 2001 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Dope, Inc. Is $600 Billion and Growing
by Jeffrey Steinberg

In the Summer of 1996, EIR conducted an exhaustive study of the worldwide illegal drug trade, "Britain's Dope, Inc. Grows To A $521 Billion Business" (EIR, July 26, 1996). That study was, in part, provoked by an Autumn 1995 EIR profile of the "new international terrorism," which highlighted the very Afghansi mujahideen and Ibero-American narco-terrorist organizations that have waged war against every nation-state on this planet for the past decade, culminating in the irregular warfare assaults of Sept. 11, 2001.

What linked those two EIR reports was the fact that the global $1 trillion per year underground economy of guns and drugs represents the logistical heart of the new international terrorism. From the opium fields of Afghanistan to the coca plantations of Colombia, the legions of modern irregular warfare combatants, deployed top-down by factions of the Anglo-American oligarchy (with generous assistance from elements within the Israeli military and intelligence structures), survive or fall, on the strength of the "logistics in depth" of the underground economy of illegal weapons and drugs.

To defeat international terrorism today, governments of the world, led by the United States and Russia, must undertake a no-holds-barred assault on the underground economy of illegal drugs and weapons—what EIR first labeled "Dope, Inc." back in 1979. The black market in guns and drugs is the "Achilles' heel" of the modern irregular warfare apparatus. Take out that infrastructure, and the capacity of this network to conduct their warfare is destabilized, decisively.

This means, above all else, that the "Grasso Factor" can no longer be tolerated, if the world is to survive the drive for a global "clash of civilizations" aimed at spreading war and chaos across the entire Eurasian land-mass. The "Grasso Factor" refers to the infamous visit that the Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Grasso, paid to the Colombian jungles, in June 1999, where he embraced a top leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Raúl Reyes, and pronounced one of the world's leading narco-terrorists "a man Wall Street can do business with."

Since the Grasso visit, new damning evidence has surfaced about the FARC's far-flung drug operations, including a multibillion-dollar-a-year guns-for-drugs alliance with the Mexican Arellano Félix drug cartel, the biggest and most murderous drug gang in that country.

It is now an open secret that the major Wall Street and City of London commercial banks launder hundreds of billions of dollars in illegal drug money every year as a matter of policy. U.S. intelligence officials privately acknowledge that all of the major New York commercial banks have emissaries in Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, and the other targets of Dope, Inc., soliciting the narco-traffickers' business. There is a fierce competition for narco-dollars—one of the biggest sources of cash flow in the world today, at a moment when the global financial system is on the verge of total collapse.

The pace at which the global financial and irregular warfare crises are unfolding, did not permit the EIR team to undertake the same painstaking study of the present world illegal drug trade that we conducted in 1996. However, EIR editors have reviewed some of the critical data, and have interviewed senior anti-drug officials from the United States and several Ibero-American nations. The report that follows represents a highly accurate summary profile of the status of Dope, Inc. at the dawn of the new millennium.

A Paradox
The 1996 EIR study concluded that Dope, Inc. had grown to a $521 billion a year illegal business—nearly doubling from the $259 billion annual revenue of 1985. The recent EIR review of U.S. government data, including the "National Drug Threat Assessment 2001" report, produced in October 2000 by the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), confirms that Dope, Inc. now represents an annual cash flow of well over $600 billion. This is an extremely conservative estimate. More precise figures, which we are not prepared to state at this time, are likely significantly higher.

At the same time, it is important to report a significant, seemingly paradoxical phenomenon. According to the March 2000 "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report," the annual State Department study of the world underground narcotics economy, both opium and coca production declined during 1995-99. The declines were very specific: Bolivia and Peru carried out intensive campaigns to eradicate coca production. Over that five-year period, Bolivian coca production fell by a staggering 71%, and Peru, under the Presidency of Alberto Fujimori, cut coca production by 62%.

During the same time frame, as the FARC was supplanting the Medellín and Cali cartels as the country's leading cocaine-trafficking organization, Colombia's coca production shot up by 126%. Colombia also emerged as an opium-producing and heroin-processing country, which now provides a substantial portion of the high-grade heroin sold on the streets of North America. Colombian anti-narcotics officials who recently visited Washington reported, during a behind-closed-doors briefing, that the opium fields and heroin laboratories were established in Colombia, with the assistance of Afghani and Pakistani agricultural specialists and chemists, leading to suspicions about a possible narco-link between the FARC and Afghani and Pakistani drug lords, who, after 1996, had worked out a drug tax-for-protection arrangement with the Taliban.

Afghan opium production increased between 1995 and 1999 by 34%, but at the same time, the government of Myanmar launched a successful crackdown against opium growers, reducing output by 53%.

What is the significance of these opposing trends over the past half-decade? While overall drug production has been on the rise, countries that showed a determination to crack down on the production of cocaine and opium were not only successful, but their efforts reduced global production figures for cocaine and opium by 18% and 26%, respectively, from 1995 to 1999.

[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on March 28, 2007]


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